How do you teach your kids to spell when you don’t know the rules and doubt your own ability? When we started homeschooling several years ago, this question plagued me. I wanted more for my kids than list-based spelling – a method that hadn’t worked for me. After much research I chose All About Spelling, and I love that I am finally learning how to spell as I teach my children this skill.
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All About Spelling Review
When I evaluate curriculum for our homeschool, I have several criteria that must be met. These include being easy to teach, being thorough, having reasonable expectations, and being affordable. High recommendations from others also help.
Easy to Teach
All About Spelling is easy to teach. Each step (lesson) is laid out clearly, and the New Teaching sections even provide a script for the teacher to follow. The beginning of each teacher’s manual shows how to prepare the spelling review box, how to organize the letter tiles, and explains new teaching methods introduced in that level.
All About Spelling presents new teaching in logical chunks that don’t leave gaps. After teaching my own children with this program, I finally know why syllable division, syllable types, and accented syllables are important when it comes to spelling.
At first glance, All About Spelling may seem daunting because students are expected to learn so many phonograms. One phonogram from the Phonogram Sounds App that always stumps us is OUGH, which has six different sounds. Yet the Level 5 teacher’s manual actually made learning this phonogram optional and gave logical reasons for this exception. I appreciate that All About Spelling has reasonable expectations for students and teachers.
I also like that All About Spelling focuses on short teaching blocks. Teachers are encouraged to break a step into multiple days of teaching so as not to overwhelm the student’s funnel.
Since All About Spelling is mastery-based, it incorporates continuous review into every step. The spelling review box with dividers makes this easy by separating phonogram cards, sound cards, key cards, and word cards into review, mastered, and future lessons sections. Review is not limited to the flashcards in the spelling review box. Other concepts like syllable types are reviewed on a regular basis too.
The lesson plans in the teacher’s manuals are truly flexible. As the teacher, you get to decide how closely to follow the script, how much review is enough for your student, and how much practice is needed before moving on. If your child doesn’t want to throw rule breakers in jail, skip that extra activity. For the record my kids think it’s fun.
The physical letter tiles are a major part of All About Spelling, but they can also be cumbersome to store and use. In response to requests for a better way, they created the Letter Tiles App, which works for both All About Spelling and All About Reading.
All About Spelling is affordable for our family. We buy the complete package for each level and then purchase student packs for younger siblings. We keep a separate spelling review box with spelling divider cards for each child.
All About Spelling offers a 1-year money-back guarantee for products purchased directly from their website.
Recommended by Others
When I was researching spelling curriculum many years ago, I kept hearing positive things about All About Spelling. What really sold me was an endorsement from the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). IEW has its own auditory-based spelling curriculum for higher levels, but they recommend and sell All About Spelling for the earlier levels.
Free Printables for All About Spelling
Because I crave order and keep a portfolio for homeschool assessments, I created printables for each level of All About Spelling. These include blank worksheets for the Spell on Paper, More Words, Dictate Phrases, Dictate Sentences, Word Sort, and Writing Station sections of All About Spelling. These worksheets are completely optional as blank notebook paper will also suffice, but I much prefer their neat, clean look.
At the beginning of each school year, I print all the worksheets we need for All About Spelling. I keep a 3-inch binder for each of my children with any worksheets/tests required for each of the subjects they are studying that year. Every week I move the worksheets we’ll be using that week to my children’s folders, and I put the completed worksheets back into their binders. At the end of the year, the teacher who does our portfolio assessments flips through these binders to assess each child’s progress.
Frequently Asked Questions
All About Spelling is pretty much open-and-go. Each step (lesson) provides a simple script to follow and instructions detailing what to do.
Before each school year begins, I do these three things to prepare.
(1) Set up the spelling review box and add new letter tiles.
(2) Print out the level-specific worksheets that I created.
(3) Use a pencil to divide each step in my teacher’s manual into teachable chunks.
This answer will vary, but the general recommendation is to do each step (lesson) in bite-sized chunks (~20 minutes) that don’t overflow your child’s funnel. I break each step into teachable chunks such that each step takes generally 2-4 days to complete.
In our homeschool, we choose to do one level per year even if we finish spelling earlier than other subjects. Rather than starting the next level right away, we continue to use our spelling review boxes to ensure mastery while we finish out the school year.
Read More: Spelling: How Much Time Should I Spend?
Each step (lesson) is scripted and provides detailed instructions. Steps typically begin with review. This is followed by new teaching and reinforcement activities.
The idea is to review daily (if needed) and break up the new teaching into appropriately-sized chunks. For reinforcement activities like Dictate Sentences, we do a few each day rather than trying to do them all at once.
Use the teacher’s manual as a guide, but realize that you can still tailor each step for your child’s individual needs.
Absolutely. Though I’m not a student anymore, I have greatly improved my spelling ability simply by teaching this program to my children. Even in Level 1, I picked up on spelling concepts that were completely new to me like open and closed syllables.
Since All About Spelling is a mastery program, you will likely still need to start at Level 1 for an older student, but you may be able to work through lessons at a faster pace. A placement test is available.
Read More: Using All About Spelling with Older Students
Yes, this program was developed by Marie Rippel because she needed a way to teach her son, who was diagnosed with severe dyslexia. Learn more about their story here.
Read More: Real Moms, Real Kids: How AAS Saved My Son with Dyslexia
Additional Resource: How to Get a Membership with Learning Ally
Yes. All About Spelling can be completed without any handwriting.
Read More: Dysgraphia: How can I help my child?
No, it doesn’t include decoding, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, or reading practice.
All About Reading is a separate program for teaching reading. Because we already had a reading program that worked when I came across All About Spelling, I have not tried All About Reading.
You can start the program at any time, but your child should have some reading experience before beginning spelling.
Read More: The Right Time to Start Spelling Instruction
No, but your child will have a strong foundation and a plan for how to continue learning to spell new words.
Read More: What Happens after All About Spelling?
Flashcards: I highly recommend purchasing the optional Spelling Divider Cards and the Spelling Review Box to store the flashcards used in daily review.
Letter Tiles: Even in Level 1, there are a lot of letter tiles, and these increase with each level. The teacher’s manuals recommend and many have had success with a 2’x3′ magnetic whiteboard for tile storage and organization.
When we began homeschooling, I didn’t have room for a large whiteboard devoted to letter tiles. I also didn’t want my younger children to play with and likely lose the tiles. Through Level 5, I’ve been able to keep all the tiles on small metal boards stored in a 3-pocket menu holder. It works, but it’s heavy and still not ideal.
Starting with the 2020-21 school year, we plan to use the Letter Tiles App.
Other Resources: I store other pages in a folder for easy access. For those that are reusable, I usually laminate these for longevity.
The All About Homophones workbook (print|ebook) is completely optional. It emphasizes word usage rather than spelling. I purchased the digital version and choose to print the corresponding worksheet
when one is available for a set of homophones. Not all homophones covered in All About Spelling have corresponding worksheets.
I included a schedule for when I use the All About Homophones workbook in the printables for All About Spelling levels 3-7.
Read More: How to Teach Homophones
All About Spelling has been a great resource for our homeschool. I truly believe that my children will have much greater confidence in their spelling ability than I had. No matter how you teach spelling, I encourage you to check out the wealth of free resources from All About Learning Press.